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Environment Protection Authority

EPA fines WestConnex contractor for offensive odours in March

Media release: 3 August 2017

The NSW Environment Prtoection Authority (EPA) has fined WestConnex contractors CPB Contractors $8,000 following an investigation into the emission of offensive odours at the St Peters Interchange worksite in March this year.
 
It is a requirement under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act that offensive odours are not emitted beyond the site’s perimeter. Between 23 to 28 March, the EPA received 24 complaints related to offensive odours in the area and these offensive odours were confirmed by EPA officers. Additional offensive odours from the premises have occurred since late April 2017 and these are currently subject to a separate investigation.
 
In response to the March incident, EPA officers inspected the site and found that heavy rainfall had meant leachate (liquid that has run through waste material from the old Alexandria landfill site) was “ponding” on site. This exposed leachate was the source of the odours.
 
EPA Regional Director Metropolitan Giselle Howard said while the rainfall had been above average, the licensee knew that the construction site rested on an old landfill and should have had a better contingency plan in place to prevent the odours being emitted beyond the site’s perimeter.
 
“We know that this odour affected residents and businesses, as well as students at the local school, so we are taking steps to ensure the contractors do everything possible to minimise the odours and reduce the community’s discomfort,” Ms Howard said.
 
“The contractors are required to prevent odours reaching beyond the perimeter of the work site. EPA officers monitor the site regularly and we will take further action as required to respond to any new odour complaints.”
 
EPA officers conducting regular monitoring of the site have not detected any offensive odours outside the site boundary since a second leachate treatment plant started operating on 19 June. The EPA also commissioned an independent leachate management expert to review site management practices. EPA is currently working to alter the contractors’ environment protection licence based on the recommendations of the expert.
 
This penalty notice is the latest in a raft of actions the EPA has taken to address the odours and respond to the community’s concerns. On 28 March 2017, the EPA issued a Prevention Notice to the company, specifying actions it must implement to eliminate offensive odours coming from the Premises. These actions have since been incorporated into the company’s Environment Protection Licence. This includes a requirement to undertake all feasible measures to prevent leachate from pooling and to cover or remove pooled leachate as soon as practicable.
 
Other actions taken to address the odours in St Peters include:
• In June, the company installed a second leachate treatment plant which is designed to lower the leachate level and prevent pooling,
• The EPA issued a Clean Up notice to the contractors on 16 June 2017. That notice required  works be stopped until the level of leachate in the area of excavation works was lowered,
• As a condition of their licence, the contractors must also undertake independent odour and gas monitoring around the perimeter of the site and at St Peters Public school on a daily basis.
 
If anyone has complaints about odours from the site, they can contact the WestConnex construction complaints number 1800 660 248 or the EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555. Both operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
 
Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm
 
-ENDS-

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 03 August 2017